“What is a linen couche proofing cloth? How do I use it and care for it?” Melissa C. wants to know on today's #AskWardee. I'm sharing my thoughts below!
Linen couche … what?
Linen couche. (Pronounced koosh.)
It's a stiff and sturdy piece of linen that is absolutely the best thing ever for proofing dough.
And recently TCS Member Melissa C. wrote in asking for more information:
Hi Wardee. I have recently received a linen couche. I was hoping you could go over how to care for one and tips for baking with it. Thank you.
Ah… what a blessing to get a couche!
My linen couche is one of my favorite things to use in the kitchen — especially when baking my no-knead einkorn sourdough bread.
Let’s back up a bit and cover the unstated question of what is a linen couche anyway, and then I’ll share how to use it and care for it.
What Is A Linen Couche Proofing Cloth?
SF Baking Institute says:
Linen canvas for proofing bread is mainly used in France and is called (couche) meaning: layer, diaper, lay down or verb go to sleep (coucher).
Made of natural flax fibers with no chemical color or setting used, linen is the best material for proofing bread. Linen is very durable, but flexible and light, which allows the folds needed separating the shape of dough. Shaped loaves of bread are placed in between the folds of linen to help the bread maintain its shape during proofing, reduce the amount of space needed in between the loaves, and prevent the loaves from proofing into each other. Linen will absorb the excess moisture of the dough and minimize stickiness during proofing or overnight retarding but will not dry it out, giving a nice thin crust. The fabric can last forever if scraped or brushed after every usage, and then hung to dry before using again. If washing linen, it must be cold water and hang dry. It might shrink.
Here is the one I have.
So… a recap of what it does:
- It proofs/rises free form loaves of dough.
- Linen is ideal because it absorbs excess moisture while minimizing stickiness, and it’s both flexible and light.
- It doesn’t dry out dough.
- Dough doesn’t get in the fibers and create a mess.
You might also find sturdy, natural, 100% linen at a fabric store — buy a yard or 2 of it and use it for proofing.
Tips For Using Your Linen Couche
Flour the couche well to prevent sticking, or flour the dough well before laying it in — especially a stickier dough like einkorn or spelt.
When making no-knead dough, line a colander with half the cloth. Add your dough (which is well floured and/or the couche is floured), then fold the other half over.
If you’re proofing a round artisan loaf inside it, put the dough in upside down because then when you tip out your dough, it’s right side up in the baking pan.
When doing baguette-style loaves, lay them between folds.
Here’s my recipe for no-knead artisan sourdough einkorn bread.
How To Care For And Clean Your Linen Couche
Your couche cloth should last your whole life and really should never need to be washed! If you feel you need to wash it, use cold water and hang it to dry.
The non-washing way to keep it clean:
- After using it, brush it off, then hang it to dry.
- If there are any bits of dough, let them dry first, then flake off with your fingers.
- Fold and store with your linens until next time.
- Make sure to tell your family it is NOT a towel and is reserved for Mama’s baking. 🙂
Again, here is the linen couche cloth I have.
- Free No-Knead Artisan Sourdough Einkorn Bread Recipe
- Free Sourdough Starter Instructions
- Purchase A Linen Couche
- Recommended Tools & Supplies for Einkorn Baking eCourse & eBook
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Have you ever heard of a linen couche cloth for proofing dough? Do you have one?
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